This is a tough time of year. Sometimes I want to dissect the psyche of those people that love this time. Because for all of my open-minded intention, I just flat out hate it.
For those of you that have been reading for a while, I’m sure that it’s no surprise that I just don’t “do” religious holidays. Western religious holidays are the ones that I have grown up with so I’m probably most adamant about those. Others that I know less about come and go without much of a thought. While my choice of religiouslessness (Buddhism…..the un-religion:)) has been a topic of discussion in my family (the kind of discussion that one might refer to as a “sit down” because if you refer to it as a “stand off” you’d probably start to think that we are still gazing at each other in disbelief across a table, tumbleweed rolling by), I’ve been so grateful to be surrounded mostly by open-minded people that, like myself, accept and even appreciate differences. I’m especially grateful because at this time of year, the weight of the season really bears on me. And it becomes hard to keep my annoyance and cynicism to myself. Some of you have helped me laugh at myself in this regard (a good reminder to lighten up, Heather). And while everyone else wants to act all “jolly and gay”, I have just a bit less of that to give. And I can’t fake it. How I feel shows all over my face despite some skilfully injected Botox. Yeah, I so did just go there.
A great option was employed this year with a quick escape to Portland. I’m not going to say that Portland was Christmas-free, but inside a lovely hotel room and some great restaurants, an awesome bookstore, some coffee shops and one museum, there was a lot of “whee!” but not so much “ho ho ho.” And creating an alternative holiday, including my birthday, in a city I really enjoyed, in good company, with perfect weather was a great way to deal. And before I left Seattle, I got to watch a charming little 3 year old open up a gift of pretend tools from Auntie Heather that he now insists on taking with him everywhere in case something needs to be “fixed”. Yeah, I am an opportunist. So?
So then, New Years Eve. It’s a goal of mine to not have expectations of NYE. Expectations are what we call a “slippery slope” in Microsoft buzzy vernacular. They almost always lead to disappointment. And in my ongoing quest to not do what I “should” just because I “should,” I stayed home, turned off the TV and caught up on the sleep I didn’t get the night before. The un-christmas was enough for me. The party plans involved an unsatisfactory child to adult ratio. And frankly, it’s amateur night. And I wasn’t feeling it. And so we passed into 2010.
The actual passing of the new year is such an spectacle; I’m not exactly sure that I understand. First, there is this “year in review” thing that we insist on doing. Why? I was here for 2009. Were you here for 2009? So if we review it then what happens? We seal it up and put it away? It’s too early to review it (it totally just happened) and it won’t have any anthropological interest for years to come. Can’t we just let it be? Do we have to talk about everyone that died this year? What the hell is wrong with us? Did we not appreciate them enough in life? Do we forget them now? Is it something we need to do to make sense of our existence? Especially us reliouslessnessless people? We kind of suck.
And while we are twisting our necks to look at the freakishness behind us, we start in with the expectations of the new year. Mother of pearl. Must we do this to ourselves? Why? Nothing can get me going more than the concept of resolutions or even better: “luck” (as if there is some power in the universe that makes good things happen to some people and bad things happen to others…the arrogance!). There is really nothing more self-defeating than trying to make a big change, all at once, because of some self-imposed cultural torture ritual. Middle path it, people. This is not good for you. The five pounds you lose will not make up for the shame felt when you decide that the gym is too crowded and you are a failure. Take small steps and be kind to yourself. For cripes sake.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about our tendency now to look behind and to look ahead and not appreciate now. We no longer have the past. And we do not yet have the future, as if we ever will. All we have is now. And it’s truly something to be appreciated. If we take the time to be open and pay attention (or, uh, I think the other way around…wait).
2009 was an awesome year for me. There have been come incredible personal changes, many of which have resulted in a little less blogging and a little more introspection; a little less reaction and more compassion and appreciation. Less urgency and more mindful now. I’m still balancing my observant nature + the snarkiness that results with a better understanding of myself and what unites us all. And I am thinking that what unites us all is enough to laugh about. Because really? Am I the only one that wonders why Jay Leno has a job and what makes Anderson Cooper so cute? Oops.
So I’ll comply ever so slightly with our mundane cultural rituals and tell you guys this: In 2010, I wish for you all lots of presence (no, not presents) and miracles. Now let’s go out and kick some ass out there.